Water Effects on Livestock Performance

Mark Landefeld, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Monroe County
Jeff Bettinger, Lead District Conservationist, Natural Resources Conservation Service

Limitation of water intake reduces animal performance quicker and more dramatically than any other nutrient deficiency (Boyles). Water constitutes approximately 60% – 70% of an animal’s live weight and consuming water is more important than consuming food (Faries, Sweeten & Reagor, 1997). Domesticated animals can live about 60 days without food but only about 7 days without water. Livestock should be given all the water they can drink because animals that do not drink enough water may suffer stress or dehydration.

Signs of dehydration or lack of water are tightening of the skin, loss of weight and drying of mucous membranes and eyes. Stress accompanying lack of water intake may need special considerations. Newly arrived animals may refuse water at first due to differences in palatability. One should allow them to become accustomed to a new water supply by mixing water from old and new sources. If this is not possible, then intake should be monitored to be sure no signs of dehydration occur until animals show adjustment to the new water source.

Water requirements are influenced by physiological and environmental conditions Continue reading

Forage Focus: 2021 Ohio Sheep Day Annual Forages Field Walk

Take a virtual walk through a set of annual forage demonstration plots in this month’s episode of Forage Focus. Dr. Brady Campbell- OSU Small Ruminant Extension Specialist and our host- Christine Gelley give background information on the plots established for Ohio Sheep Day, offer ways the forages could be used on farm for small ruminants or other livestock, and share the results of forage quality tests for all 15 annual forages featured in the episode.

Tools to Manage Ewes During Gestation

Rob Zelinsky, M.S., Hubbard Feeds Companion Animal Team
(Previously published online: Hubbard Sheep Solutions)

(Image Source: The Fence Post)

Ultrasound Pregnancy Diagnosis


  • Sell open ewes during inflated cull ewe markets
  • Economical feeding (less over and under feeding)
  • Identify ewes with multiple births and feed accordingly


  • Cost
  • Extra ewe handling during pregnancy

Shearing Continue reading

Winter Grazing: Annual Forages Improve Lamb Growth and Health Parameters

Dr. Brady Campbell, Assistant Professor, State Small Ruminant Extension Specialist

Fall is for harvest. Whether directly involved in production agriculture or a consumer of its products, most associate this time of year with combines harvesting soybeans and corn in the field or farm stands filled with pumpkins and apple cider. However, for livestock producers and especially those raising ruminants, harvest looks a bit different. This time period is the final push for grazing corn fodder/stubble, stockpiled forages, or annuals planted in the late summer before environmental conditions force producers off of pasture and into the barn or drylot to feed grain and hay. For those that planned ahead, well done! Each of these options provide high quality feedstuffs that are self harvested by the animal, resulting in a cheaper feed source. For those that weren’t able to sacrifice the land or weren’t prepared for planting, no worries, there is always next year.

Some of you may be thinking, what forages would provide enough nutritional quality to get me through the year? For those that were able

Continue reading

2021 Buckeye Shepherd’s Symposium Program and Registration Announced

Christine Gelley, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Noble County

2021 Buckeye Shepherd’s Symposium Flyer

To register directly for the event, please visit: go.osu.edu/ohiosheep

2021 Buckeye Shepherd’s Symposium QR registration code. Scan this code with your phone to register.

The Ohio State University and Ohio Sheep Improvement Association is pleased welcome all to the 2021 Buckeye Shepherd’s Symposium in Wooster, Ohio on Friday, December 3 and Saturday, December 4 at the OARDC Shisler Conference Center. This year’s symposium theme is genetics and reproduction and will feature a wide variety of speakers and gathering opportunities. In addition, this years program will have two options for attendance as all are welcomed to join either in person or virtually. To secure your spot at this years event, please following the links in the flyer provided above or by scanning the QR code to the right.

On Friday, December 3 from 2-5 p.m. attendees will enjoy an afternoon of discussion on genetic appraisal, reproductive strategies, and record keeping from all aspects of the sheep industry. On Saturday, December 4 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. there will be a collection of sessions including the annual OSIA business meeting, educational presentations, and an awards ceremony. Throughout the day attendees will Continue reading

A Global Perspective on Lamb Quality

In 2019, producers from across the nation and around the world met in Ft. Collins for the first ever Lamb Summit. The goal of this event was to identify how, and why, to improve both the market and eating values of American lamb. The presentations provided below are from the the perspective of lamb producers in Australia and the United Kingdom. I encourage you to take a listen to each, you may find that lamb producers around the world are facing the same rewards and challenges. As imported lamb continues to rival our current market, maybe we as an industry can adopt some of these skills used across the globe to improve the value of American lamb.

Dr. Phil Hadley – United Kingdom

Dr. David Pethick – Australia

Continue to “Stage” Pasture into Fall

Victor Shelton, NRCS State Agronomist/Grazing Specialist

My wife has been splitting open persimmon seeds. For those who don’t know what this is supposed to mean – it is an old wives’ tale method of predicting the upcoming winter weather. For clarity, I’m not saying my wife is old, but she does like to read persimmon seeds! Traditionally, you split the persimmon seed open to reveal the whitish sprout inside. It may require a bit of imagination, but they are supposed to resemble a spoon, a fork or a knife. The spoon is said to predict lots of heavy, wet snow. A fork means you should expect a mild winter. A knife indicates an icy, windy, and bitter cold winter. Surprisingly or luckily, it is often correct. She split open several seeds this year – all were spoons.

Now, I would not bank on that information, but it is a reminder that we need to be prepared ahead of time for whatever the weather decides to throw at us.

Each year is a little different, so Continue reading

Dairy Sheep in the United States

Dairy sheep. Although not common in the United States, there is an opportunity for growth – both for the genetics of these sheep and the products that they make. Dairy influenced sheep breeds work well in commercial production systems in addition to the gourmet products that can be derived from their milk. For more details on how these sheep can be used in your operation, be sure to watch this webinar supported by the Let’s Grow Program with the American Sheep Industry.

Recap: 2021 Ohio Sheep Day

Dr. Brady Campbell, Assistant Professor, State Small Ruminant Extension Specialist

Sunflowers… Can they be used as a forage, or better yet, will sheep graze them? What about brassicas, such as turnips and radishes? If these were to be grazed, what is their feed value?  These question as well as many others were discussed at the 2021 Ohio Sheep Day held at the OARDC Small Ruminant Center in Wooster, Ohio.

Traditionally, Ohio Sheep Day is held in July, but with the uncertainty of summer programming, the 2021 Ohio Sheep Day planning committee elected to hold this years event in the fall. As noted by many in attendance, the cool, crisp weather was a nice addition to the slate of events.

Per usual, the day began with welcomes and introductions of those involved in preparing for the day. Attendees were welcomed to the university facility by many important leaders such as Dr. Anne Dorrance, Director of the Wooster Campus, and Gregg Fogle, manager of the Small Ruminant Center. At the conclusion of the opening remarks, it was off to the pastures to begin our field discussions. First on the list was Continue reading

Electric Fencing for Sheep

Gerlad Q. Fitch, Extension Sheep Specialist, Oklahoma State University
(Previously published by Oklahoma State University Extension: February, 2017)

The use of electric fencing for sheep is relatively new in the United States. Several other countries have used electric fencing with great success for several decades now. Electric fencing is more economical than standard barbed wire or hog wire fencing. Electric fencing also allows for temporary fencing to subdivide pastures, which can increase the stocking rate and forage utilization and decrease parasite problems through rotational grazing.

Why has electric fencing not caught on in the United States? The main reason is the past failures producers have experienced due to utilizing poor quality fence chargers and not understanding the basics of electric fencing. The basic principles of fence construction, grounding, and current flow must be understood to ensure correct fence design with minimal maintenance and maximum current flow.

Fence Chargers and Grounding
The major mistake that is made in electric fencing is Continue reading

Tips to Help Prevent Winter Barn Fires

Jason Hartschuh, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Crawford County
(Previously published in Farm and Dairy: November 14, 2019)

(Image Source: Farm and Dairy)

As I dig in the closet to find a few more clothes to stay warm when I go to the barn, it proves winter is rolling in fast and I had better get the barns ready.

Usually, when I think about getting barns ready for winter it is making sure I can keep drafts off the calves. There is one other big thing to think about and inspect as you prepare for winter, are there any fire hazards in your barn?

The first fire hazard that comes to mind is the six different barn heaters we run in the winter. During the summer, we shut the gas off to all these heaters to prevent a fire, especially since many of these heaters have a standing pilot light.

When it comes time to Continue reading